How to teach when students ignore you

Discussion in 'Secondary Education' started by newbie12, Sep 14, 2018.

  1. newbie12

    newbie12 Rookie

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    Sep 14, 2018

    Today in class I decided to create a fun 'inquiry' based maths activity for my year 8 class (I teach at a boys school). I brought all the materials and was super prepared.

    Unfortunately this class is so tough (I have posted about them before). They wouldn't quieten down to hear the instructions of what they were meant to do. It was a disaster. Some students were walking around lost. Some students were being hostile and rude to me "Ms won't teach use" "why do have the crappiest teacher in the world." I felt like crying. I know we are not meant to take their comments and disrespect personally as they are kids and they are often nasty and rude at this age but it really affects me.

    Anyway how should I teach if students are just not willing to listen, get off phones/ laptops etc.
     
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  3. MissCeliaB

    MissCeliaB Aficionado

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    Sep 14, 2018

    I'm struggling with that in some of my classes, as well. Unfortunately, I find what works and we do more of that. In this case, it's Kahoots, Quizlet Live, etc. And videos. Nothing else really engages them, and if I let them do group work, even for short periods, and even with clearly defined roles, they immediately get too loud and off task. They are simply not interested in academic tasks or learning. I feel bad for the handful of students in those classes who are interested, and I try to include the occasional engaging activity occasionally, but it leads to such extreme discipline issues (some of my students are literally juvenile delinquents) that it isn't worth it.
     
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  4. ms.irene

    ms.irene Connoisseur

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    Sep 14, 2018

    I know our teacher "preparation" classes teach us that if we just prepare "engaging" enough lessons, our students will magically want to learn and be challenged and inspired and stand on their desks cheering for us. The reality is, with a class that is this disengaged, you really have to go back to the basics/bare bones before you can try out more exciting/engaging lessons. I would go back to very straightforward, simple, structured lessons, even back to doing a timed worksheet that you collect and grade right away. Many students who are at this point are actually struggling with the basics anyway and need more explicit skills review than we realize. Once you get things under control, you can try throwing in a "fun" lesson and see how it goes.
     
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  5. Ima Teacher

    Ima Teacher Maven

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    Sep 14, 2018

    They don’t deserve fun. Buckle down. Worksheets. Straight rows. Silent, independent work.
     
  6. socalenglish

    socalenglish Rookie

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    Sep 15, 2018

    Agree with Ima. Also— there are no phones or laptops. It is early enough in the year for you to adopt a no- nonsense approach.
     
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  7. creativemonster

    creativemonster Comrade

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    Sep 15, 2018

    Do you have a board where you can write the directions, step by step? I would. Along with the fact that it will be graded. Remind them that they are in class to work toward their success and even if they love you so much that they want to repeat the class a second time, they might much prefer to pass first time and then just come back to visit. Try to stay positive and try not to let them see that they get to you. (For me this isn't that easy, but good to have as goal!) It really will get easier. remember they are children and you are the adult. If they won't put electronics away, note down who, and spend some time calling parents. and with parents, stay positive, but let them know that their child must not bring electronics to class and have office number for parents to call in case of emergency. Start conversation with at least one positive fact about their kid. Good luck! Go slow to go fast - work routines so that instruction gets easier.
     
  8. newbie12

    newbie12 Rookie

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    Sep 17, 2018

    thanks for the advice. I hate going to this class through.

    Today, one of the kids went into my bag and stole my keys. There is not much I can do about it obviously as I don't know who did it, but what as__holes. Like criminals.
     
  9. Leaborb192

    Leaborb192 Enthusiast

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    Sep 17, 2018

    This is the BS among BS that they teach us in ALL teacher prep, regardless of where you go to school. A lot of the times you can plan active and engaging lessons and many students will still actively work AGAINST you and derail the entire thing.

    :mad:
     
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  10. otterpop

    otterpop Aficionado

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    Sep 20, 2018

    Absolutely! Give something straightforward and easy to understand, direction-wise. Read xx pages, answer xx questions when you're done. Define these vocabulary words. Focus more on the behavior than on the assignment at first. Get them totally quiet (wait as long as needed) and then explain the directions quickly and calmly. Give them the work, then stand in the front of the class and just watch. Have very clear behavior expectations - You have xx minutes to get this done. Please stay in your seat. If you have any questions, raise your hand. You may not talk. (Or whatever your expectations are.) Then call them out every time they aren't following your expectations - "Voices should be off." "Stay in your seat." At that point, if they totally ignore you and get up to talk to someone anyway after your reminder to stay seated, they are being defiant and should receive a consequence/office referral.

    It's important to be consistent every single time. If someone politely gets up to ask for help, tell them to return to their seat. Don't allow exceptions, because that's when trouble starts as they'll try to find the actual boundary.

    This sounds harsh, maybe, but if you can get them working quietly as described above, you'll eventually be able to get their respect and attention enough to do some of the more "fun" lessons. First, though, they need to see you mean business.

    This is what I'd do in elementary, at least, but older students can be tougher. What grade is this?
     
  11. otterpop

    otterpop Aficionado

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    Sep 20, 2018

  12. HSEnglishteach

    HSEnglishteach Rookie

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    Oct 1, 2018

    Newbie12,

    I don't know your particular circumstance, and there certainly are some rooms of kids that are chronically challenging, but in your particular situation it seems to me that the problem might be a lack of consistency in expectations and consequences.

    My question to you is this: how many referrals/consequences have you given to individuals within this class so far? If you truly have a roomful of kids who care nothing about consequences and will persevere with misbehavior despite consistent, repeated, unemotionally-applied consequences then you have seemingly "hit the lottery" and there's nothing you can do. But in my nine-year career, I've only had a handful of these kinds of kids and though I've had more than one or two in a room together, I've NEVER had an entire classful of them, which makes me doubt that you do.

    The way back with a class like this is through unerring consistency. The students need to know EXACTLY what is expected of them on a moment-by-moment basis, down to the minutest detail, and they need to know that you will carry through with calmly-applied consequences each and every time they choose not to meet an expectation. To this end, I would get on the same page with an administrator to make sure he/she knows that he/she is likely to be barraged with referrals over the next two weeks. Explain what that will be and what you're trying to accomplish. I'm sure you'll have support.

    Next, you're going to have to restart from day one. Tell the kids that you're restarting. Tell them WHY you're restarting, and be honest with them (though frame it as positively as you're able). They won't like it, they'll groan and complain loudly. However, they won't tell you this most likely, but they'll secretly agree, especially those students who actually want to learn and succeed. You owe it to those kids in particular. Do everything in your power to get them to listen to you on your restart day. If you truly cannot maintain their attention, I would bring an administrator or department head in with you to help you get your message across. Teach your expectations in minute detail, model those expectations, and tell the students WHY they are your expectations. Leave nothing to chance or the imagination. Teach your consequence tree in the same way, and model what it looks like. Then make a promise to your students that you will follow your expectations each and every day in order to provide them with the education they deserve. Be excited about your expectations and optimistic as you teach them, not angry. Don't make it seem punitive. Don't make it seem like they're "bad kids" so they need a "bad kids" classroom. Take the blame for what has been happening in your room so far. After all, you are to blame, difficult kids or no. Sorry to be that direct about it, but facing reality is the first step to improvement.

    As for your expectations, no electronics is a must. I would encourage a one warning then immediate office referral policy. Unless your entire class of kids won't put their electronics away, sending 6-10 kids down to the office for a referral (again, make sure your administration knows this will happen) will send a pretty strong message that something has changed in your class. Don't allow them to remain in your room if they are openly defying you. Calmly and confidently explain that they have chosen not to meet your expectation (or the school's expectation) and that they must go to the office. If they refuse, call the principal to come and get them. It won't be pretty for the first few days, but this is the only way back.

    I would also include a clear expectation about side conversations during teacher-led instruction. Again, I would provide one warning and then immediately move a child's seat. Once again, if the child refuses, calmly explain that he/she must go the office.

    The final expectation I would include would be about on task behavior during activities. I strongly disagree with my colleagues who say that the answer is to make your class more boring/less engaging. Research says that this will only make the problem worse. You WANT the kids engaged and enjoying their learning. That's critical. But in order to do so, you have to enforce your expectations. My expectation for this would resemble the earlier expectations: explain that students get one warning if they're off task or disrupting during group work. If they persist, separate that student from the group and give him/her independent seat work for the remainder of the project. It's as simple as that. If he/she refuses to leave the group, again send the student to the office with a referral.

    You can do this. You just have to be clear and consistent.
     
  13. Geologygirl

    Geologygirl Comrade

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    Dec 3, 2018

    -For group work assign students specific roles they are responsible for in their group.
    -Before giving them supplies for a fun activity make them read and answer questions about the instructions before giving them the supplies to do the activity.
    - When they are not using technology at appropriate times confiscate the technology until the end of class or take it to the office depending on your schoolwide technology policy/ what you sre comfortable doing.
    - a friend has a cell phone box that has a space for each kids phone. They put the phones in at the beginning of the period and she locks it till the end.
    - a coworker has planned cell phone breaks. Kids know they have this 5 min period midclass to do whatever so it is easier for them to put the phones away and not check k 5hem constantly
     
  14. Geologygirl

    Geologygirl Comrade

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    Dec 3, 2018

    Get admin involved kids should never go in your bag!
     
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  15. Ms.Holyoke

    Ms.Holyoke Groupie

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    Wow. I'm sorry that happened. :( I would lock up all of your personal belongings.
     
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  16. Leaborb192

    Leaborb192 Enthusiast

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    Dec 5, 2018

    Some kids don't know boundaries and/or purposefully disrespect them. I see kids all the time just waltzing up into the teacher's area (which used to be sacred) and just plopping themselves down in the teacher's chair as if they are entitled to it. Like REALLY?

    I had one student say to me one time that "he should be allowed to sit in the chair because the teacher gets to all day."

    :mad:
     
  17. Teacher234

    Teacher234 Comrade

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    Dec 5, 2018

    I absolutely loved using this line when I taught middle school and high school. For my current class, I literally see most of my for students for 3 years in a row!!
     

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